NZ Forest Native Birds

Fiurzunga disappearing in the Falls: from The One Marked by Willow by Laraine Anne Barker

Chapter 12
Battle at Albiwaeter

Mark still had his hand on Fiurzunga’s hilt. Now he unsheathed the blade so quickly the steel hissed like an angry snake against the scabbard. The growing light caught the Weraltouge set in  the  end  of

the pommel in a dazzle of red sparks. The sight of it boosted Mark’s confidence. He also sensed that the red light had flashed a message to the Piksendragons and the dragonlings to stay where they were.

      The wyverns descended towards the river and Mark moved so that he stood between them and the defenceless dragons.

     But the wizard and the wyverns were uninterestedat least temporarilyin Mark. Huge claws extended, they swooped straight at the foaming water where the unicorn had plunged in. All they succeeded in doing was to drench the wizard. Ignarius shouted something at them.

      At the same time Mark cried out “No!” as the dragons launched themselves down the slope and into the air. Four of them went for the head of Ignarius’s wyvern, which had now turned to face Mark. The other four made for the one apparently attacking the falls. Keeping out of the way of the spitting, snapping jaws, the dragons clung around the wyverns’ heads, blinding the creatures. Little blue flames spurted from their mouthsflames apparently damaging enough for the wyverns to close their eyes and keep them closed. The creatures bellowed and thrashed their heads about but were unable to dislodge their tormentors.

      On the back of the larger wyvern, Ignarius was thrown around unmercifully. Because of this he was unable to use his staff to dislodge the dragons from around his steed’s head. Suddenly he appeared to give up trying. He shouted something that was unintelligible to Mark and brought the staff down hard on the wyvern’s neck. The wyvern stopped thrashing around and settled on the riverbank, partially blocking Mark’s view of what was happening in the river behind it. All he could see were spurting fountains of water like sprays of silver light.

      Mark crept forward, sword at the ready. The wyvern turned its head from side to side as though trying to gauge Mark’s whereabouts from sound alone.

      Mark turned his attention to Ignarius but soon realised he couldn’t get at the wyvern without coming within the wizard’s striking range. Ignarius looked at him through hard, narrowed eyes.

      He spoke with menacing calm. “I’ll make a bargain with you. Call those irritating flying insects off so my wyvern can see and I’ll go without harming either them or you. Then, when the other wyvern has killed the unicorn, you can deal with it as best you can. Otherwise I’ll kill all eight of your precious dragons.”

      Mark sensed something wrong. Ignarius appeared as genuinely unwilling to kill the dragons as he seemed anxious to leave. Why? “You don’t seriously expect me to believe you. Besides, if you had the power to kill them you’d do it.”

      “I have the power to kill them. And believe me I will if you force me. But your infernal unicorn in its suicidal rush into the river has somehow managed to drain a lot of my power.”

      Then, as Mark just stared in confused astonishment at Ignarius’s admission, the wizard calmly lifted his staff. Mark saw it lengthen. And next moment it flashed out in a vicious blow. For an instant Mark thought himself doomed. But all the staff did was strike his hand upwards, hitting the inside of his wrist with a force that sent pain shooting right through his hand, paralysing his fingers. Fiurzunga soared into the air.

      “Now do it!” the wizard roared.

      Mark watched the sword arc towards the river. Its blade flashed silver fire in the sunlight while the Weraltouge flared like a red skyrocket. Then the sword hit the water at the top of the falls, below which the second wyvern was still thrashing around looking for the unicorn. The red and silver light went out as the sword vanished.

     And Mark knew he had to do the wizard’s bidding: without Fiurzunga he was defenceless.

© L A Barker Enterprises
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Riders of the White Unicorn

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